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Elizabeth Boskey, Ph.D.

High Risk HPV in Women

By November 21, 2012

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To follow up on my last post about oral HPV in men, I wanted to mention a second interesting article from that same issue of Sexually Transmitted Diseases. The study looked at the epidemiology of high-risk HPV (hr-HPV)in women, in a sample of over 500 women aged 25 to 65 who said they had used the Internet to search for romantic partners. The results were rather depressing.

The researchers found that 35.9 percent of women in the study were infected with hr-HPV. Although previous studies have often reported that prevalence decreases with age, this study found that to only be true for women who were not having sex. That makes perfect sense as, over time, most women will clear their HPV infections, but there's no reason why older women can't also be infected.

Interestingly, other risk factors for infection included having more sexual partners, having sexual partners with at least one concurrent partnership... and having met a sexual partner online. The more risk factors women had, the more their risk went up. Fortunately, for those of us who online date, the news wasn't all bad. Consistent condom use was quite protective. I wonder if it might help to put an extra one on the mouse...

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